Saturday, November 10, 2007

Project Safe Place

Since we've been talking so much about the lives of homeless teenagers, lets talk about Project Safe Place. Project Safe Place is a program that attempts to keep kids... those who are homeless, and those who are dealing with other serious and potentially dangerous problems... safe.
Communities that embrace this program have youth-friendly places sign up to be official "Safe Places" for kids. These may be libraries, the YMCA, fire stations, schools, kid-friendly businesses, etc. Often a local mass transit system participates and designates all of the community's busses as safe places. These places put a sign up in their windows, advertising that they are safe places.
So how does this work? Through outreach and advertising, the general population of youth in the community learn that, if they are in a crisis and need help of any sort, they can walk into any "Safe Place" location. All a kid needs to do is tell an employee at the location that they need help from Project Safe Place. The employee then finds a safe place for the kid to wait, and contacts the local Project Safe Place headquarters. A Safe Place staff member or volunteer then goes to the location, talks with the young person, and may bring them back to the local Project Safe Place headquarters. There, the kid can meet with counselors, who make sure the kid gets the help and services he needs.
The situation may be that the youth is having problems at home, living with abusive parents or parents with substance abuse problems. The youth may be someone who is thinking of running away from home, has already run away, or has been kicked out of his house. Or it could even be a youngster who was offered a ride from a stranger and got scared. No matter what the situation is, Project Safe Place can help.
Does your community have a safe place?

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